Weekly Feature Archives

Glaciers Abound in Lynn Martel's new book, "Stories of Ice"

Posted December 24, 2020

Sarah Boon reviews Lynn Martel's latest book, "Stories of Ice: Adventure, Commerce and Creativity on Canada's Glaciers," which was published earlier this year. Boon describes the work as "a comprehensive look at how these features have shaped the ways people have traveled through and populated the land. Martel shows that we still have much to learn about the now-disappearing bodies of ice from the community of adventurers, entrepreneurs, scientists, and artists who have explored them."

And Then We Were Twelve

Posted December 19, 2020

In 1990 alpinist Barry Blanchard found himself trapped in a blizzard high on Yexyexescen (Mt. Robson), the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies—with eleven other climbers, two of whom were injured, and no certain way down. In this Full Value story from Alpinist 72—which is now available on newsstands and in our online store—Blanchard tells the story of how they all miraculously survived.

Tool Users: Modern Weather Forecasts

Posted December 3, 2020

In this Tool Users story from Alpinist 72—which is now available on newsstands and in our online store—Brandon Blackburn investigates one of the most paradigm-shifting tools of modern alpinism: accurate weather reports.

Falling into Place

Posted November 26, 2020

In this On Belay story from Alpinist 72—which is now on newsstands and in our online store—a young Michael Kennedy sets out in 1977 with two of his heroes, Jeff Lowe and George Lowe, on the Alaskan expedition that culminated in the first ascent of the famous Infinite Spur on Mt. Foraker/Sultana. Looking back on that summer, Kennedy recalls how the name of the route grew to represent "far more than the physical dimensions of the climb."

Meditations of a Dreamer

Posted November 2, 2020

We're sharing this story early from the upcoming issue of Alpinist 72 because it pertains to policies that may change depending on the outcome of the presidential election on November 3. In this story from the Climbing Life section of Alpinist 72, Mauricio Portillo writes of how he arrived in the US when he was only four, as his parents sought a "safer place to raise a family," and how he and other "Dreamers" later benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA), which gave them a "temporary stay from being deported to countries we hardly remember." Portillo grew up to become a high school teacher and a mountaineer, finding a sense of belonging on summits in the Pacific Northwest. Then in 2017 the Trump administration attempted to rescind the DACA program. In June 2020 the Supreme Court blocked the immediate canceling of the program, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing an opinion that the administration hadn't followed the correct procedure. Since then, the administration has stopped accepting new applications to the program, has begun requiring current DACA recipients to apply to renew their protections from deportation annually instead of every two years and has delivered ambiguous messages about the overall fate of Dreamers. (In contrast, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has promised, if elected, to "send a bill to Congress creating a clear roadmap to citizenship for Dreamers"). "There are approximately 800,000 Dreamers in the US today," Portillo writes, "and our future often feels more uncertain than an alpine climb."

Water is Life

Posted October 5, 2020

In this Wired story from Alpinist 71—which is now available on some newsstands and in our online store—Dine climber Len Necefer journeys to the sacred peaks to find new ways to meld his ancestral cultural ceremonies and the mountain sports he loves while the world around him increasingly grapples with uncertainty and the threat of climate change.

Tool Users: Barometer

Posted September 21, 2020

What's a glass instrument measuring four feet long and filled with mercury doing in your rucksack? In this Tool Users story from Alpinist 71, Caroline Schaumann and Bruce Willey reveal the history of the glass barometer.

Local Hero: Khamsang Wangdi Sherpa

Posted September 10, 2020

In this Local Hero story that first appeared in Alpinist 71, Deepa Balsavar and Nandini Purandare recount the life of Khamsang Wangdi Sherpa, who was born in Nepal in 1932 and was ahead of his time when he started the Sherpa Guide School in 1966 near Manali in Himachal Pradesh. Balsavar and Purandare write, "A gentle and far-thinking man, Khamsang Wangdi Sherpa remains an unsung hero of mountaineering: a superb climber, teacher, leader and entrepreneur, and a compassionate soul. His story deserves to be told."

Beyond the Field Notes: Ed Roberson on Climbing and Poetry

Posted September 8, 2020

In this feature from Alpinist 71, Sarah Audsley interviews poet Ed Roberson. Born in 1939 in Pittsburgh, Roberson nurtured a burgeoning curiosity for the world from a young age. On his first major mountaineering expedition, he made the second ascent of Nevado Jangyaraju III (5450m) in Peru. Herein, Roberson discusses how his notes from the field came to shape some of his prize-winning work.

Of Monuments and Mountains

Posted September 2, 2020

In this Sharp End story from Alpinist 71—which is now on some newsstands and in our online store—Deputy Editor Paula Wright observes, "Today the phrase 'keep politics out of climbing' frequently pops up in online comments—as though by disregarding the larger context of our expeditions or by censoring certain facts, we might emerge onto a fantasy plane where the messy realities of our societies and the airy brilliance of an alpine summit never intersect. Yet we are living in a time of overlapping crises and movements that no one can ignore."